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tv   Tavis Smiley  WHUT  February 2, 2012 8:00am-8:30am EST

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captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: the g.o.p. presidential candidates headed west today after mitt romney's resounding victory in florida yesterday. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. on the newshour tonight: we get the latest on the republican race and assess how big money is shaping the campaign. >> woodruff: then, we interview u.s. housing secretary shaun donovan about president obama's plan to help homeowners struggling to pay their mortgages. >> ifill: ray suarez tells the story of victor rios, a one-time california gang member now college professor and mentor to at-risk youth. >> it was important for me to hear an adult tell me, "listen, we know you messed up. we know you're a dropout, but we still believe in you." and they gave me that dignity and i ran with it, and i'm still
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running. >> woodruff: jeffrey brown examines the much-anticipated public offering for social media giant facebook. >> ifill: and hari sreenivasan explores a fossil find in the rocky mountains packed with the bones of ice age mammoths. it's the subject of tonight's edition of "nova." >> woodruff: that's all ahead on tonight's newshour. major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> bnsf railway. >> and by the bill and melinda gates foundation. dedicated to the idea that all people deserve the chance to live a healthy productive life. and with the ongoing support of these institutions and foundations. and... this program was made possible by the corporation for public broadcasting. and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
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>> ifill: the republican presidential field moved on today, fanning out to a series of upcoming caucus states. but the echoes from the romney- gingrich battle in the florida primary lingered. >> mitt! mitt! mitt! mitt! mitt! mitt! >> ifill: fresh off tuesday's big win, mitt romney said the no-holds-barred fight in florida has prepared him for a tough, drawn-out campaign. >> perhaps that what we're getting now inoculates us, or at least prepares us, for what will come down the road. >> ifill: but he gave his opponents' ammunition firstng tn a morning television interview that he does not care about poor people. >> i'm not concerned about the very poor. >> ifill: but, in context, that's not all romney said. >> we have a safety net there. if it needs repair, i'll fix it. i'm not concerned about the very rich. they're doing just fine. i'm concerned about the very heart of america, the 90-95% of americans who right now are struggling.
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>> ifill: moving his campaign to minnesota, where republicans vote next tuesday, romney chose instead to focus his fire on the president. >> he does not know how to lead america. he's detached from the american people. i will stayn touch with the american people, and i will lead us back into prosperity. ( cheers and applause ) >> ifill: but former house speaker newt gingrich, who lost florida to romney by 14 points, took direct aim at romney's remarks about poverty in reno, nevada today. >> i am fed up with politicians in either party dividing americans against each other. i am running to be the president of all the american people, and i am concerned about all the american people. ( applause ) >> ifill: gingrich vowed to stay in the race right up until the nominating convention, seven months away in tampa. but in washington today, the
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nation's top elected republican, house speaker john boehner, dismissed fears that a protracted nomination fight would hurt the party. >> listen, i understand people are concerned about how long the primary process is dragging on. i would remind people that president obama and secretary of state hilary clinton had a fight that went through june of 2008. i think everybody just needs to relax, and this will resolve itself. >> ifill: two other major republicans remain in the hunt for the nomination. former pennsylvania senator rick santorum stumped in colorado, where caucuses are set for tuesday. and texas congressman ron paul spent the day courting voters around las vegas. all four will need to raise and spend ever larger amounts of money to keep going. new financial reports released last night show the role that independent outside groups, the "super pacs," are playing. according to the federal elections commission, pro-romney groups raised more than $30
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million by the end of last year. those supporting newt gingrich raised more than $2 million. and that doesn't include $10 million the former house speaker's super pac received from a single wealthy nevada couple in january. groups supporting ron paul and rick santorum brought in a little over $2 million combined. the super pacs grew out of a supreme court ruling in 2010 that lifted restrictions on corporate and union spending in federal elections. the numbers are big: $40 million spent just by those outside super pacs so far. but candidates are also raising money the old fashioned way. mitt romney: $57 million, more than his closest competitors combined. that's ron paul at $26 million, newt gingrich at $13 million, and rick santorum at $2 million. but president obama had already raised $128 million for his reelection campaign by the december 31st reporting deadline. that's before the first primary
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votes were even cast. for more on how money has shaped the campaign so far, we turn to: john dunbar, managing editor of the center for public integrity, which has been tracking the spending; and eliza newlin carney, staff writer for "roll call." welcome to you both. john dunbar, start by telling us what we know based on these reports about who is behind all of this money coming spot campaign. >> with the, they're mostly wealthy individuals. there's a lot of corporations, a number of corporations, but we're seeing a continuing trend of, you know, basically rich people making extremely large donations. >> ifill: were they not able to do that before? >> no, not this way. they're able to give a contribution to-- by giving a contribution to a superpac they can actually affect the campaign in a way they couldn't before. the contribution limits to a candidate are $2500. there are no contribution limits to a superpac, and yet a superpac can run an ad that's
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just as effective as something that would be run by a candidate. >> ifill: are the superpacs outspending the candidates right now? >> ? n some cases they are, and i think what's interesting about restore our future, the romney superpac, it raised $30 million, more than all the other g.o.p. competitors have raised, a lot more. >> ifill: eliza you spent your life following the "follow the money" edict. wasn't the supreme court's goal to allow for transparency. you can give as much money as you want, as long as you say you're giving it. >> you can spend as much money as you want as long as you say what you're spending. there were complaints around the superpacs for two reasons -- or continue to be complaints. one is leading up to the primary a number of them requested changes in filing deadlines to the s.e.c., which means it prevented people from seeing donations until the 31st of january after a number of
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primaries and caucuses had already taken place. that's one reason s.e.c. disclosures have been carefully watched because this money hadn't been disclosed until now. >> ifill: when we are we going to find out about the money spent since january 31? >> we know about that spending. it's just they number of the primaries took place before we found out about it. the other thing that people are distressed about with these superpacs is a number of them are nonprofit affiliates, and those nonprofitprofits are not t to the disclosure rules. >> ifill: what about the karl rove group, that's $51 million. it's not spent necessarily targeted to a particular candidate. >> oh, but they are upon they're just doing it in the congressional districts right now. once the g.o.p. figures out who they're going to get behind, half of that money from crossroads, at least what we understand, are going to go in ads to back the g.o.p. nominee
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or to go after barack obama glial so we know about the money being spent for presidential races which is what you're talking about today but you're saying there's a whole other front to this war. >> oh, boy, yes. especially the crossroads front. yowe will know because of the filings. we're going to know on the 20th how much the superpacs have spent, on the 20th of february, they're going to switch to a monthly filing. hopefully from here out, we'll know a little more about the superpacs but the nonprofits are a concern, crossroads, cross-root are i nonprofit and don't have to say who their donors are at well. >> the democratic doplegamers aren't raising as much as the crossroads operation. the crossroads operation raised about $18 million for the superpac but more than $30 million for the nonprofits.
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since senators on capitol hill today, democrats, criticized that secret money, there is a group called "priorities u.s.a. action" which has a nonprofit affiliate. but the money involved is much smaller. >> ifill: we now know, prince, that all this money has been raised. what do we been what it's being spent on? is it all television or other things? >> it's mostly television. the vast majority of it is television but that's no surprise because that's 80% of what you spend on a campaign is television. florida is eye great example of that. restore our future spent $10 million just in florida, almost all of it on advertising. >> ifill: to spending decisions differ from candidate to candidate? >> they differ from superpac to superpac. i think the candidate strategies are similarly. but the pro-gingrich superpac came out and said they were going to do a real ground war operation, they were going to get out voters, that they were going to target voters.
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and there were some people i talked to who said that difficult for a superpac to do. the most effective use of a superpac may be running ads because if you don't have a candidate to mobilize volunteers it's hard to motivate people and really turn them out to vote. >> ifill: one of the things that comes out of these periodic discussion disugzs we have about money is that money yields a result, and the $$10 million newt gingrich got kept him alive through south carolina and florida and he wouldn't have been able to survive. but rick perry got a lot of money. jon huntsman got some superpac money-- mostly from his farther, it turns out. but they are no long inert race. is there a direct connection between money coming into these races this way and candidates florirring? >> that's the eternal question, isn't it? i think if we knew that absolute, then it would be-- you know, politics would be really bore,. generally speak the guy with the most money wins, and that's what's playing out right now on
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the g.o.p. side. >> my own view about these superpaction is that they are probably going to play less of a role in the presidential campaign trail than they will in congressional races. they probably are accelerating trend that would have taken place anyway on the presidential campaign trail, but when you get to closely contest house and senate races, there may be millions spent by outside groups, especially at the last minute, that could be decisive, and some people argue that already happened in 2010, when america crossroads and other g.o.p.-friendly outside groups help republicans take over the house. >> ifill: how does this compare to past presidential cycles? >> in 2004 we had groups called 527 groups and republicans like to say this isn't news because george soros-- >> ifill: and the swift boat veterans. >> exactly. and those were important groups as well. those groups were somewhat different in the 527 groups did disclose everything to the internal revenue service, and the nonprofit affiliates will of these superpacs are not going to do that. so i think there's arguably going to be less disclosure this
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time around. >> ifill: you agree with that? >> it's also the content of the message. the supreme court said something called express advocacy. the 527s were never allowed to say "vote for" or "vote against." these groups are allowed to say the most aggressive form of political speech. >> ifill: that's the biggest different. john dunbar feliza newlin carney, thank you both very much. >> woodruff: still to come on the newshour: housing secretary shaun donovan; help for at-risk youth; facebook goes public; and fossils from the ice age. but first, the other news of the day. here's kwame holman. >> reporter: the day's economic news showed promise. factory output rose in january by the most in seven months, and chrysler reported its best january sales in four years. it also earned a profit last year, for the first time since 1997. ford sales also rose in january, but business at general motors was down slightly.
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on wall strt today, the dow jones industrial average gained 83 points to close at 12,716. the nasdaq rose 34 points to close at 2848. drug maker pfizer has recalled a million packets of birth control pills. the company said today some of the packages contained too many active tablets while others had too few. that raises the risk of an unintended pregnancy. the pills in question are manufactured by pfizer but sold in the u.s. under the akrimax pharmaceuticals brand. at least 73 people were killed in egypt today when a soccer match erupted into a riot. fans of rival teams rushed the field in port said, hurling sticks and stones at each other. egyptian state television reported at least a thousand people were injured in the ensuing stampede. >> u.s. forces are expected to end their combat role in afghanistan some time in 2013. defense secretary leon panetta
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laid out that timeline today, the most explicit yet. he said a training role would continue through 2014. mental, a leaked nato report said captured taliban fighters believe their side will seize power again after nato forces leave but a nato spokesman in kabul insisted the insurgents are losing the war. >> we cannot really put that high a value on what they are saying as they are talking about their perception of the campaign, what they believe how the campaign is going, and what they want us to believe how their campaign is going. >> reporter: the report also said the pakistani intelligence service knows allbout taliban activities and the locations of their leaders. but the foreign minister of pakistan visited kabul today, and she said the claims were nothing more than "old wine in an even older bottle." don't think these claims are new. these claims have been made for many, many years and we all know the reasons for that. i think i can just disregard
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this as potentially strategically or otherwise. >> reporter: also today, nato said an afghan soldier shot and killed a coalition soldier in the south. an afghan commander said it was an accident, but afghan-on- coalition attacks have numbered six since december. and a pentagon report today counted more than 40 such incidents since 2007, with 70 coalition troops killed. in pakistan, fighting between militants and the military ratcheted up in a series of incidents. pakistani fighter jets bombed militants in a border region. the army reported up to 31 insurgents were killed. to the south, gunmen attacked a paramilitary checkpoint in baluchistan province, killing 11 soldiers. a separatist insurgency has raged there for decades. a deep freeze kept much of central and eastern europe in its grip today, and the death toll rose to 83. the hardest hit areas-- in pink on this map-- had temperatures as low as minus 26 degrees
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fahrenheit, as cold air pushed down from siberia. in bosnia, small mountain villages were cut off by heavy snow, and helicopters had to airlift emergency supplies. parts of the black sea froze near the romanian coastline. and even farther south, parts of italy were having the coldest week in nearly 30 years. a shipwreck hunter in new england may have found one of the richest sunken treasures ever. greg brooks announced today he's located the wreck of world war ii cargo ship that carried 71 tons of platinum, valued today at $3 billion. a german u-boat torpedoed the ship off capcod in 1942. salvage operations may begin by march. a stunning discovery rippled through the art world today. the prado museum in spain nounced it has a version of the "mona lisa" that is likely the earliest known copy. officials said it was almost certainly painted by an apprentice, as leonardo da vinci
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was painting his masterpiece. x-ray imaging taken two years ago allowed restorers to uncover a tuscan landscape background similar to the original, but hidden under a black coating. >> ( translated ): the most important thing is to return the painting to its original condition. the painting was covered for 250 years with a black dye. this painting can help us show the original painting from other points of view, and also help to document the practices in leonardo's studio. while leonardo was painting the original, the disciples were painting their versions. >> reporter: the painting has been a part of the prado collection for years but had not been displayed often. a renowned polish poet who won the nobel prize for literature died today at her home in krakow. wislawa szymborska was awarded the nobel in 1996. the prize committee said she mixed elegant language with "the fury of beethoven." her work spanned more than six decades, starting in 1945. wislawa szymborska was 88 years old.
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and another death of note: the creator and host of "soul train," don cornelius, was found dead of a gunshot wound at his los angeles home early today. police said it was a suicide. his tv dance show, with its trademark animated chugging train opening, aired nationally from 1971 to 2006. it showcased the best in r&b, soul and hip-hop music. cornelius hosted the show for 22 seasons, until 1993. he was 75 years old. those are some of the day's major stories. now, back to judy. >> woodruff: next, president obama lays out a new plan for tackling the housing crisis, but will it be more successful than prior efforts? the president had only to cross the potomac river to falls church, virginia, to fi plenty foreclosures. >> this housing crisis struck right at the heart of what it means to be middle class in america: our homes. >> woodruff: in fact, he said,
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the crisis remains "massive in size and scope," and he described his latest attempt to attack the problem-- first, by letting homeowners with private mortgages refinance into government-backed loans at record-low interest rates even if they owe more than the home is worth. the administration says the plan could help 3.5 million borrowers and save families about $3,000 a year. it would cost $5 billion to $10 billion, paid for by a fee on big banks. the president also called for a homeowners' bill of rights and a program to rent out foreclosed properties. congress has already balked at the bank tax idea, but mr. obama insisted it's time to try again. >> it is wrong for anyone to suggest that the only option for struggling, responsible homeowners is to sit and wait for the housing market to hit bottom. >> woodruff: at the capitol, republican house speaker john boehner dismissed the proposals.
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>> none of these programs have worked, and i don't know why anyone would think that this next idea is going to work. and all they've done is delay the clearing of the market. the sooner the market clears and we understand where the prices really are will be the most important thing we can do in order to improve home values around the country. >> woodruff: an existing program already allows those with government-backed mortgages to secure lower interest rates. about one million homeowners have used it, but president obama conceded today that's well short of the goal of four million to five million. for a closer look at the president's plan, we turn to shaun donovan, secretary for housing and urban development. i spoke with him a short time ago. secretary shaun donovan, thank you very much for talking wi us. >> great to be with you, judy. >> woodruff: now we just heard
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speaker john boehner say none of the administration's housing help plans in the past have had, in his words, any effect. the president himself acknowledged today they haven't had the effect that he had hoped. what gives you hope this one's going to be any different? >> well, first of all, speaker boehner should talk to the million families that have been able to refinance their mortgages to record-low interest rates, even though they're under water, or the five million families who have been able to stay in their homes thanks to modifications. the number of people falling into foreclosure today is down by about half since when the president took office. so we have made practical, but as the president said, as i think you just recognized, we need to do more, and we need to go farther. specifically today, this proposal to expand the number of families that can refinance their mortgages, even though they're under water, this is something we know can work because it is working for fannie mae and freddie mac borrowers. last fall, the president asked
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us to expand the number of folks that we could reach by knock down a bunch of the barriers that we'd found in the private market to refinancing. we did that. we brought together the private sector and others and we were able to change things like getting those who hold second mortgages that were standing in wait to reduce those, knocking down fees for appraisals and other things. and that had bipartisan support. senators boxer and issacson put a bill together to support what we were doing. and we've seen broad support across the political spectrum from economists who say broader refinancing is one of the most important things that we can do, not just to help homeowners. it's an average of $3,000 a year that they would save, but also to boost consumer spending. that's like a major tax cut, and it keeps going on every year that that family is paying the mortgage. so these are important steps that have broad support to move forward. >> woodruff: but the principal part of what you're talking about is making people-- letting
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people are privately held mortgages get government-backed mortgage assistance. even your supporters are saying that is not going to pass the congress. it was certainly the implication of what the speaker and other republicans are saying. so what are homeowners to believe? >> well, judy, let's let folks look at the proposal and evaluate it. and, again, the idea that somebody who's done all the right things-- a family that's paid their mortgage, despite the fact that they're under water, for years through this crisis, the idea that they coun't benefit from record-low interest rates today is inherently unfair, and we've made these changes. they've been broadly supported for families that have fannie mae and freddie mac or f.h.a. mornings. we ought to be the same thing. it's a simple matter of fairness. i think when folks in congress take a look at this, they will support it, as have a broad range of economists across the
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board who believe this is one of the most important steps we can take for the housing market and for the economy more broadly. >> woodruff: mr. secretary, what do you say to the argument from not only the speaker but other republicans, including those running for president, when it comes to the housing crisis in this country, the market ought to be allowed, in essence, to just bottom out, find out what the prices truly are of these housing properties. >> judy, let's be clear about what that means. if you have a family whose entire net worth is tied up in their home, who is going to be able to start a small business because of the equity they had in their home or send their kids to college, bottoming out means telling those families they can't send their kids to college, they can't start that business. it's a little bit like saying, "well, if you've got a fire in somebody's house, you ought to let nature run its course, even if that means burning down the whole neighborhood." and if you're a family where you've done everything right,
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you paid your mortgage, and just because a foreclosure sign goes up next door, your own home loses $10,000 in value, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me or the president to say to that family, "well, let nature take its course." this is something we can make a difference on. we have made a difference on it. and i'll tell you, the president and i are not going to sit by and sit on our hands while we let those families, middle class families who have done the right thing suffer. this is a very clear divide between us, and i think it's a very simple one for the american people to understand. >> woodruff: on the other hand, many of your supporters ask even up until today why didn't the administration push the banks, the lenders, the institutions that hold these mortgages harder earlier on to work with homeowners? there is still lingering criticism of the administration that you didn't push the banks when there was more clout, frankly, to get them to do something. >> judy, two things i would say
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to that. one is, on the refinancing program that we put out, we immediately took steps to make it available, and what we found over time is that there were a series of barriers in the market that stood in the way. and those were things that we couldn't just force the banks to do. we had to sit down and really work through the issues, things like well how could we create a mechanism so that second liens would be resubordinated. was there a new technology we could use to do automated appraisals. those were things that we've done that have allowed us to open up refinancing to many more people, and those weren't things that were simply a question of pushing. it was a question of sitting down, working collaboratively, and making it happen. on the other hand, there are examples where we do have to push the banks much harder, and i use as an example the work that we've been doing with 50 state attorneys general around
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the country on the foreclosure abuses that we south carolina just horrendous problems with foreclosing on families while they were trying to get help. robo signing of documents. that's an area where we are holding the institutions accountable with tens of billions of dollars of penalties and also help directly to homeowners that is mandatory. it's not something that the banks will choose to sign up for. it's something that's mandatory as a result of our coordinated enforcement actions with states and with the federal government. >> woodruff: secretary shaun donovan, thank you very much for talking with us. >> gre to be with you, judy. >> ifill: now, another in our series on the nation's high school drop-out crisis. tonight, one man's journey from gang member and dropout to professor, and his efforts to keep other young men from making his mistakes. ray suarez has our "american graduate" story.
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>> my name is victor rior. in. this was me. in 1994, this was me. i was introduced to the nation in a frontline documentary. i was a gang member, a juvenile delinquent and a high school dropout. >> reporter: but in the 18 years that followed, victor rios earned his high school diploma, finished college, earned a ph.d. from the university of california at berkeley, and wrote two books on his life and his research on juvenile delinquency. he now teaches sociology at u.c. santa barbara and helps at-risk youth navigate the perils of adolescence. rios is also a family man with a wife, rebecca, and three children: nina, maya and marco. life is constantly busy. >> to come this far, i feel like i've lived two lifetimes.

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